German Pirate Party Uses Drone to Crash Angela Merkel Event

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 18 2013 2:12 PM

German Pirate Party Uses Drone to Crash Angela Merkel Event

FT-Merkel drone
The dastardly German Pirate Party's drone

Still from YouTube.

Over the weekend, a German campaign event in Dresden was disrupted when a small unmanned aerial vehicle—better known as a drone—flew across the crowd and toward the podium where Chancellor Angel Merkel sat. The operator of the drone was quickly found and arrested, which seemingly caused the UAV to make a rushed landing on the dais. Merkel looked on with a wry smile.

It didn’t take long for Pirate Party members to claim credit for the stunt, saying they meant to show Merkel what it’s like to be observed by a drone. (With German elections less than a week away, they also wanted to reignite discussion about a costly failed drone development plan.)


German politics aside, the incident is important for a few reasons. For one, it shows how easy it is to fly a remote-controlled UAV into an unsuspecting public event. Combine that knowledge with the many videos on the Internet that show UAVs rigged up with paintball guns, toy rocket launchers, and machine guns and you have to wonder how long it will be before legal UAVs are being used for nefarious purposes.

And those are relatively high-tech riggings. How hard would it be to buy a UAV at Brookstone and duct tape a piece of dynamite to it?

Furthermore, what’s the response plan for when a weaponized UAV eventually flies into a stadium, parade, or election event? I’m sure the Secret Service has a plan it’s not sharing, but what about lower levels of law enforcement? Do we expect them to bring down a quickly moving aircraft the size of a football with small arms fire? Maybe the answer is to equip event security like skeet shooters, like the yahoos in this drone-shooting video recommend.

Look, I’m not siding with the guys in Colorado who want to hunt drones for sport. I’m just saying that UAVs are both easily available and easily modified. And every week it seems there’s a new tragedy to remind us that mentally unstable individuals will lash out in every way they can. Guns are one way to do that. Why not drones?

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Jason Bittel serves up science for picky eaters on his website, He lives in Pittsburgh. Follow him on Twitter.



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.